- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Republicans in Arizona’s delegation to the U.S. House cheered Friday at Speaker John Boehner’s decision to retire and are looking to replace him with a more conservative leader who will take a harder line against the Obama administration.

Rep. Matt Salmon had already committed to working to remove Boehner before the announcement. He applauded Boehner for stepping down.

“I think it was a selfless act. And when anybody becomes the issue instead of the issues at hand, it’s time to move on,” he said in an interview on CNN. “It was going to be very, very difficult, I think, for us to move forward without serious conflict.”

Boehner’s decision avoids a major fight over his continued leadership but unleashes a new one as more conservative members push for one of their own to take on the role.

That could pit Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California against tea party-backed hopefuls who want to run the House.

Rep. Paul Gosar of Flagstaff said he’s been pushing for change in how the House is run since first running for office in 2010. His spokesman said he’s likely not to back McCarthy, instead supporting Florida Rep. Dan Webster for the post.

Schweikert says it’s too early to say who might emerge as speaker, but he could back McCarthy.

“I first would like to have the conversation with him, because there are some things I believe that are really important to us in the Southwest,” Schweikert said in an interview. “Would he be willing to give those a fair hearing? If he would, I could get there, but there’s some strings attached.”

The Paradise Valley lawmaker said he saw the fight among Republicans not as one between conservative stalwarts and more moderate pragmatists, but between “reformers versus the establishment folks.”

“Because we have some folks who are not ideologically conservative who are doing battle because they want to change the rules, they want to change how votes come to the floor, they want to change the process,” Schweikert said.

The other two House Republicans from Arizona, Martha McSally and Trent Franks, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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